Today, Rajya Sabha saw four adjournments within its first hour of proceedings. The Opposition party, Congress along with Trinamool Congress and Janata Dal (United) alleged that the Reserve Bank Of India printed two types of Rs 500 notes and called it as the ‘biggest scam of the century’.
Displaying two images of notes of Rs 500, the Congress told members of the Rajya Sabha that they were of different shapes and sizes. Slogan-shouting Congress members trooped into the well even as Leader of the House and finance minister Arun Jaitley said the opposition party has been raising “frivolous” issues without giving notices to stall Zero Hour proceedings.
Congress was supported by Sharad Yadav of JD-U, who has been reportedly uneasy since his party aligned with the BJP to form a government in Bihar, sided with opposition by displaying copies of some currency notes. Other members like Derek O’Brien of TMC also displayed the new 500 rupee notes issued after demonetization to “prove” the different sizes they were being printed.
“I can give signed copies” of the notes, he said as treasury benches countered his contention which was earlier raised by Kapil Sibal of the Congress. Yadav said no country in the world has different sized currency notes. “One is big, one is small,” he said.
The leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said that one kind of note was “for the party (Bharatiya Janata Party)” and the other “for the government. We never printed two kinds of notes, one for the party and one for the government – there are two kinds of Rs 500 notes and two kinds of Rs 2,000 notes.”
Derek O’Brien even offered to submit the notes to Jaitley and walked up to him to explain the difference. However, he didn’t leave the notes with the Finance Minister. Jaitley said there is no provision in the rules that anyone could “flash any paper and say it is the point of order”.
“There is a misuse of zero hours which is going on,” said Jaitley adding the Congress first raised the issue of provision for None-Of-The-Above (NOTA) in the ballot for Rajya Sabha poll but then discovered that the provision had been made during their rule.
Later speaking to reporters, Kapil Sibal said, “The country should know the truth if the Reserve Bank of India knew that there are different types of notes (in the market), why did it not mention it on its website”. “I have found two kinds of Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes whose dimensions and design differ. How is it possible that two different kinds of notes are printed,” asked Kapil Sibal.
“Finance Ministry should ensure that only one type of notes is printed. The RBI will say return us (the notes)… do they want people to stand in queues again,” the Congress leader said. He said that the government and the Prime Minister must answer the people as to how this has happened.
As law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi countered, Azad said two types of notes are being printed. “The government has no right to remain in office for even five minutes,” he said. Deputy chairman PJ Kurien said even if there are two types of notes, it cannot be a point of order. Kurien, however, asked the leader to give a separate notice. Anand Sharma of Congress said the credibility of the currency in circulation has been challenged.